The Null Device
Property developers in China have created an artificial English town. Located on the outskirts of Shanghai, "Thames Town" contains such quintessentially English essentials as Georgian- and Victorian-style terrace houses, a pub and fish and chip shop and a statue of Winston Churchill. The owner of the original fish and chip shop, in Lyme Regis, meanwhile, is quite annoyed with her business having been copied lock, stock and barrel without permission.
Of course, unless the high street is comprised entirely of chain stores, it's not a real English town but a vaguely Disneylandish (or perhaps Portmeirionesque) idealised one. In any case, it will soon be joined by other European-style developments, with an Italian and German town being planned. And apparently the entire town of Dorchester is being reconstructed in Chengdu, under the name "British Town".
So far, the SBS, Australia's second noncommercial broadcaster (specialising in international film and television and world news) has escaped the scourging that the ABC has repeatedly received from right-wing culture-warriors in the government. All this looks about to change, as the government, triumphant after its neutering of the ABC, announces that SBS is next in line for straightening out:
Liberal Senator Michael Ronaldson said George Negus had expressed "pro-Arab" sentiments on international current affairs program Dateline and Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said SBS had "sided" with Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks and exhibited "a rather equivocal view of terrorism".
Fierravanti-Wells, who declined to speak to Green Guide, told the hearing that SBS broadcast "smut and pornography" by showing foreign films and adult animation programsSBS, with its cosmopolitan (and thus, by definition, "un-Australian") agenda, is an artefact of the Thaw, the three or so decades of liberalism between the collapse of the old wowser monoculture around the late 1960s and the rise of the new wowserism; I was wondering how long it would be tolerated in Howard's majoritarian new order.
The BBC has an interesting article on South Asian influences on colloquial English, from "Hinglish" as spoken in India to contemporary British slang:
And the dictionary identifies how the ubiquitous "innit" was absorbed into British Asian speech via "haina" - a Hindi tag phrase, stuck on the sentences and meaning "is no?".
This collision of languages has generated some flavoursome phrases. If you're feeling "glassy" it means you need a drink. And a "timepass" is a way of distracting yourself. A hooligan is a "badmash" and if you need to bring a meeting forward, you do the opposite of postponing - in Hinglish you can "prepone".
There are also some evocatively archaic phrases - such as "stepney", which in south Asia is used to mean a spare, as in spare wheel, spare mobile or even, "insultingly, it must be said, a mistress," says Ms Mahal. Its origins aren't in Stepney, east London, but Stepney Street in Llanelli, Wales, where a popular brand of spare tyre was once manufactured
Police in Italy have seized a toilet which plays the Italian national anthem when flushed from the Bolzano Museum of Modern Art. A court will now decide whether the museum is guilty of causing offence to the nation; the case for the prosecution is strengthened by a decree by the authoritarian Berlusconi government earlier this year defining the national anthem as an emblem and the property of the state.
The Republicans got a caning in the US midterm election, with the Democrats seizing the House of Representatives; the Senate hangs in the balance.
Would it be too cynical to suggest that, if Congress becomes too difficult (i.e., by refusing to pass whatever follows the abolition of habeas corpus and legalisation of torture), all the Whitehouse has to do is allow a major terrorist act to take place on US soil (perhaps by strategically blocking various investigations or programmes) and blame it on Democrat recalcitrance, after which no-one will vote Democrat for a generation?